Lessons Learned

You would think that the older we get we would stop learning things the hard way. Today was the City to the Sea ride in Jacksonville NC in which tomkarches (who I met thanks to this forum) came from Raleigh NC to ride with me. It is a 21 mile ride on mostly flat terrain. The first thing I learned was crank size. I had been riding with 140 cranks because I felt like I had more control in the city environment. This was rural. The 140’s are fine for 10 miles-ish. I definitely needed the 125’s. I know you guys use smaller ones but I do not think I would do well with them yet. I used the 125’s last year ( the first time I rode it) and it was fine. The 140’s wore me out! Therein lies lesson two. I did not hydrate enough. So hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE! We were a mile from the end of the ride when my left thigh TOTALLY locked. UGH! Talk about a UPD. I must have been on the ground for 5-10 minutes trying to get that quad to unlock. There is lesson 3. Ride with somebody on the longer rides. Tom really came in handy helping me get the leg unlocked and securing the precious uni’s from traffic. Thanks Tom! Given I have passed the age of having to prove something to myself I took a ride the last leg. I did not want to lock up again. Tom on the other hand finished in style. It was a lot of fun riding with someone else and a perfect day for a ride. So far the City to the Sea ride has only had one uni finisher each of the last 2 years. I got last year and Tom took it to the finish line this year. You are all welcome next year! Hope to hear what tomkarches has to say about the ride.

Sounds like you learned a bunch of really important things.

What wheel size are you riding on?

I was riding a nimbus 36" w/a TA tire… and now some new scratches! Ha!

I was on a new Coker Big One with an XLR tire, Fusion Freeride seat and T7 handle. The handle was great to have.

I realized that there is no replacement for actually doing the miles. The longest continuous ride that I had done up to the ride was about 9 miles, which I did on my 29 with 102 cranks. 20 is a lot more than 9.

I didn’t realize that a headwind could come from so many different directions within a 2.5 hour period :-). Most of the ride seemed to be into the wind.

Even the morning after, I was zonked. These rides really take a lot out of you.

The 125 cranks would have been about right since the ride was mostly flat. Any smaller cranks and I would have wanted a brake (which I am planning to install).

I need to figure out the whole “fueling my body” for optimum results. My preparation was not very disciplined. References appreciated.

My biggest problem on the ride was getting comfortable in the seat. I think I had the front up too high. I lowered it to almost flat before riding this evening…feels a bit strange at first, but I think that will improve the comfort. I had bike pants with padding, but they did not seem to help a lot.

I’m glad I had the Camelbak to stay hydrated. I got the Rogue, which had 2 zippered compartments for tools and stuff. Just right. I’m used to riding with a pack, so it wasn’t a big deal.

This place has them for $39 shipped, which is the cheapest I could find :


All in all it was a lot of fun…I enjoyed having the company. The other cyclists seemed impressed that we had done the ride on unis. I was sorry that Dean was unable to finish…thankfully his injuries did not seem too major.

I’m looking forward to entering other bike events, though I will prepare better for them.


A big, low-fat breakfast always helps. Don’t overload on the carbs, either… or if you do, make 'em of the complex variety (whole grains, fruits, veggies, etc.) Think oatmeal, toast, egg whites, potatoes, yogurt, last night’s left-over pasta…

I haven’t been able to find the “killer dinner” that allows me to eat a minimal breakfast the next day, but then again, I have a very high metabolism. YMMV.

The one change I made that helped me the most was eating while riding. Eating before I got hungry. Keeping the calories flowing. Again, don’t overload on sugars. Fruits, nuts, energy bars. Once you run out of energy it’ll take you a while to get it back, so make sure your Camelbak is well stocked with both food and water!

My secret weapon has been . They’re only good for about 30 minutes, but they’ll put the wind back in your sails, provided you’re not scraping the bottom of your energy barrel. On a long day (60+ km) I’ll eat three or four of these.